SPINACH N’ CHICKEN CURRY
The snow was falling heavily outside,the news of the snow storm warning loomed loud & clear.Its amazing how one can choose one’s thoughts and place an order from memories ,to warm one’s tummy on a cold snowy day.Perhaps it was the trucker on the road,that reminded me of this curry,as he sped across the slushy snow on the road, my thoughts flew to the Indian trucker & the food joints he frequented …off course!My menu was planned as I drove home,thanks to the trucker who splashed snow as he drove past, my dinner was ready in my mind .
“Dhaba’s” are roadside eating joints in India, which serve as a lifeline for travelers especially truckers.The truck & the truckers nurtured the Dhaba culture,and since most Indian truck drivers are of Punjabi (north west India) descent,these places were run by Punjabis.If you love the vibe, the loud music, the hectic crowd, with a big menu and a little price,this” hole in the wall place” would be just right for you, needless to say we drove miles as students for that cup of chaii or lassi ( sweetened buttermilk) & the simple rich, robust food served by these warm & accommodating Punjabi Dhaba’s.For those of you who prefer candle light romantic dinners for two please step aside, this place is not for you, its for those of us for whom the embodiment of food signifies the spirit of the nation, and forms an integral part of our identity.The casual seating here is on cots( called Chaarpais in Hindi) and the food is prepared in clay ovens( called tandoors).The food is rich with dollops of butter in almost every dish & it served us well as students,those days when we did not have to watch our waistline.
The sheer joy of eating Indian food lies in the tactile sensation of feeling the butter soft bread between your fingers & then scooping the curry within the confines of your bread & slowly loosing yourself in the gastronomic delight it offers, I can bet on the fact that a spoon & fork would never stand up to the challenge.One such delicious find was this Spinach in Chicken curry, also called Saag Chicken or Palak Murg in Hindi.
Stepping into my kitchen,woken up from that little flashback on the road, here I was armed with spinach & chicken, creating this simple & quick dish which combines the muskiness of spinach with the tenderness of the chicken & the delicious smell of aromatic spices while the windows steamed up with the cold wind outside….what better way to relish your greens & proteins than this curry.Enjoy.
Spinach – 1 bunch
Chicken thighs- 6-8 pieces
Onions- 1 big
Bay leaves 1
Turmeric powder-1/4 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Garam masala- 1 tbsp
Green chillies 4-5 (slit lengthwise)
Yogurt/Curd- 4 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste -1tbsp
Salt – to taste
1.Wash the spinach in cold water & blend it well into a fine paste with a few tea spoons of water.Set aside.
2.Now in a wok, warm the oil, add the bay leaves, cardamom & cinnamon & when they splutter add the green chillies.
3.Now to the above add the finely sliced onions & saute them to a light brown,then add the blended tomatoes into the mix.Now add the ginger garlic paste & mix well.
4.Add the turmeric & garam masala powder to the above & allow it to cook for a few minutes.
5.Now add the cleaned & cut chicken & allow it to cook for 10- 15 minutes while cooking in its own steam by stirring occasionally.
6.Then to this add the blended spinach puree & mix it well, till the raw smell disappears.To this add the yogurt/curd with salt to taste & allow the curry to cook for a few more minutes before switching off the heat.
7.Tastes good with Indian bread( garlic or plain Naan), also goes well with Jeera( Cumin seeds) rice or plain rice.Enjoy.